Cut to the Chase

FOR WHOM THE BELT TOLLS Juliet Jeske hits a high note.

FOR WHOM THE BELT TOLLS Juliet Jeske hits a high note. Photograph: Gerry Goodstein

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5

Cut to the Chase is the perfect title for a slapstick show that’s nearly all slap and no stick. A dialogue-free musical confection created by movement-oriented troupe Parallel Exit, the production is 60 straight minutes of breakneck tomfoolery, set squarely in the world of old-timey entertainment that inspired it.

That there’s barely any material that wouldn’t have been current in 1927 is both a source of charm and the show’s greatest drawback. To see the classic gags of writer, actor and pianist Joel Jeske’s scenario pulled off with crack precision and goofy aplomb by an expert cast under Mark Lonergan’s seamless direction is a pleasure in itself. None of the stereotypical showbiz characters (haughty diva, deadpan drummer, insufferably perky juvenile) miss a note, even as they hurl themselves headlong from one bit to the next (with nary a pause for breath), singing, tap-dancing, stealing kisses and, yes, chasing each other all over the stage.

However, there’s no denying that we’ve been here many times before. With so much talent in the company, one can’t help but wish a few more daring leaps had been attempted; though physical comedy has a rich heritage, a group this skilled is poised as few others to explore new avenues. Nonetheless, as a quick, slick treat for comedy lovers and families, Cut to the Chase is great fun even when it’s just going through the motions.

Jeff Lewonczyk

59E59. By Joel Jeske. Dir. Mark Lonergan. With ensemble cast. 1hr. No intermission.